WE hope that the latest round of post office closures will see the end of this malaise across rural Ireland, which continues to take a disproportionate hit when it comes to the loss of services that people in urban areas take for granted. The 159 closures this time around came about as a result of the people who ran these post offices taking a redundancy type of package from An Post with the agreement of the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU).
Many postmasters and postmistresses felt bad about taking the package, in some cases feeling that they were letting down their local communities by doing so, but people in general were understanding of their dilemmas and not inclined to hold them personally responsible for the closures, which were at the behest of An Post and made solely on commercial grounds. Full credit to the handful of operators who decided to refuse the financial package and keep their post offices open – such as Bridie Roycroft in Ballydehob for example – but people must understand that this will only last as long as such POs are being supported by the public; it is as simple as this, ‘use them or lose them.’
The government’s lack of enthusiasm for supporting increased capabilities in the provision of financial services in post offices, especially important for rural areas which the main pillar banks have deserted, is perplexing given that it was one of the key recommendations of the report on the sustainability of post offices compiled for it by respected businessman Bobby Kerr.
With loneliness and isolation big rural problems, people operating post offices can often spot if somebody has not been seen for a while and organise for someone to check on their welfare. Nothing can compensate for the loss of this in a community.